Kansas legislature nixes 500-foot review for historic districts, altering impact of Westwood Hills proposal

The Westwood Hills attempt to have the entire city listed on the National Historic Register (reported here last week) is still moving toward its review in August, but it appears the ability to influence development outside Westwood HIlls has been derailed by the Kansas Legislature.

Westwood Hills buildings could still be in an historic district, but it would not affect Westwood.

Currently, any building permit for work within 500 feet of an historic district is subject to review by State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). If Westwood Hills becomes an historic district in total, the 500-foot rule affects a significant swath of Westwood and Mission Woods.

The Kansas House has now approved a conference committee report on a bill that strips out the 500-foot environs review. The Senate had approved the bill earlier and it is headed to the governor for a signature. During the regular legislative session the language removing the 500-foot review passed the House but not the Senate. During the veto session currently under way, it was resurrected and stripped into another bill in conference committee.

If the bill is signed, the 500-foot historic environs review is dead, according to SHPO. That let’s Westwood breathe a sigh of relief. Westwood City Clerk Fred Sherman indicated that removing the 500-foot environs review should alleviate Westwood’s concerns about the Westwood Hills historic district application. Building permits in Westwood Hills will still require a review from SHPO if the application is approved.